Finding a new home can feel like an overwhelming search, especially for a first-time buyer. Those who are selling their first home also can feel intimidated by the process. There are so many questions when listing a home or when trying to find a first home.
Buyers and sellers might wonder if there are any hacks to make the process easier—especially for first-timers. While buying or selling a home for the first time isn’t always stress-free, it also doesn’t have to be an overwhelming and grueling ordeal. These 10 tips for first-time buyers and sellers can help simplify and de-stress the process.
Five Tips for First-Time Buyers
Finding the perfect first home may mean something different to every new buyer. However, there are a few tips to keep in mind before touring homes or getting too attached to one specific type of home.
1. Know the budget.
The most important tip when house hunting for the first home purchase is to know the budget. A home is a major investment, and it will most likely be the biggest monthly expense. Buyers should know how much home they can afford.
How much should a first-time buyer spend on a home? According to Nerdwallet, the mortgage payment shouldn’t be more than 28 percent of an individual’s monthly income. Knowing the budget helps ensure that the buyer doesn’t overspend, which can lead to financial stress down the road.
2. Use a REALTOR®
A REALTOR can help buyers find the home of their dreams within their budget. REALTORS will talk to buyers about what type of home they want. This will include finding a home within a specific location or school district that has the space that the buyer needs, too. REALTORS also will need to know the budget to ensure that they find the home that meets the financial needs of the buyer.
REALTORS are an important ally in the home-buying process. They will show buyers the homes that fit their needs and write up a contract when the buyer is ready to make an offer. In addition, the REALTOR facilitates negotiations with the seller’s agent during the offer process.
REALTORS also can provide advice on offers and help buyers understand if and when it might be advisable to offer less than a list price or more.
Buyers can find a REALTOR through word-of-mouth recommendations, local advertising or by visiting REALTOR.com.
3. Try Not to Get Emotionally Attached
It’s easy to feel warm and fuzzy about a home. Sometimes a buyer will find the home that they feel is “the one.” Unfortunately, that home might have other offers. Sometimes a deal isn’t meant to be and buyers should try to treat the home-buying journey as more of a business transaction instead of something too personal.
4. Remember that the Seller’s Agent Works for the Seller
The REALTOR that works with the buyer is in the buyer’s corner. The REALTOR that lists the house for the seller works for the homeowner. When a home offers an open house, the agent in the home will be the seller’s agent.
Ideally, buyers who are interested in seeing a home, even one that is hosting an open house should have their REALTOR with them. When the seller’s agent is around, keep emotions in check and put on your poker face.
5. Keep Options Open
A first-time buyer might have a lot of boxes that they want to check off for their perfect home. However, some homes might not have every single detail that’s on the must-have list. While REALTORS make every effort to make sure to find homes with all the features the buyer wants, in a very competitive market, it could be tough.
Buyers might make a list of key features that they consider deal-breakers. These are the features that they need for their home. For example, some buyers won’t buy a home unless it has three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
Buyers also can think about the features they might be willing to sacrifice if the home has all the main features they demand. Sometimes a home also could have a really unique feature that makes up for something that it doesn’t include. Keep options slightly open.
Five Tips for First-Time Sellers
Selling a first home might be an emotional experience. Some homeowners might sell after all their kids have grown; they could have lived in their first home for decades. Others might have purchased a smaller home and need to upgrade to something larger. No matter what home the seller is leaving, though, there are always memories attached.
Here are five tips to help homeowners who are about to list their first home:
1. Know the Comps of the Area
Before placing a home on the market, homeowners should research the previous (and most recent) sale prices of homes in the neighborhood. Home prices are public record, but it still might take a bit of effort for homeowners to track down the most recent sale figures.
Comps should be used from homes of equal size that are close-by, and, ideally, in the same neighborhood. Try to find sales figures within the last few months. Homeowners planning on listing their home “For Sale By Owner” will need to research these figures.
Those who are listing their home with a REALTOR won’t need to worry about hunting down sales figures. REALTORS have access to all the latest home sale prices and can easily find comps to better understand the best list price for the home.
2. Stage the Home
Some homeowners hire a company that specializes in staging a home. However, homeowners also can stage the home themselves.
Make sure that all the rooms are tidy. Remove any items from rooms that aren’t necessary or that take up too much space. Clutter can distract potential buyers.
Homeowners also might consider repainting the walls to freshen up the home. Consider replacing outdated wallpaper. If carpet is older or stained, homeowners might replace floor coverings, too (if the budget allows). Homeowners also should step outside and check out their home’s curb appeal. Pick up the yard and make the front of the home as attractive as possible.
3. Be Flexible to Potential Buyers
Sometimes buyers might ask to see the home at an odd or inconvenient time. This can be frustrating to sellers. However, when selling the home, homeowners might need to be prepared to leave their home on short notice.
In addition, homeowners also should assume that every day is a show. Keep the home presentable and in tour-ready condition.
Sellers who work with a REALTOR will likely be advised on the best list price. However, some homeowners may have their own ideas or they might want to aim for a much higher price. Going too high in price, though, can deter buyers. Then sellers may face one or more price reductions in order to gain interest.
5. Don’t Take the Process too Personal
Sometimes a buyer might offer a really low offer. This ‘low ball’ offer can feel insulting. In addition, feedback might be given to the seller’s REALTOR about the home that might be less than wonderful.
Selling a home is a transaction. Unfortunately for many homeowners, it can be hard to let emotions go during the process. The home holds many memories. Letting it go can be tough, and receiving a low offer or negative feedback related to features can hurt.
Try not to take low offers personally, though. Instead, REALTORS can advise the homeowner on how to best handle the situation. Sometimes REALTORS advise their client to flat out reject the offer.
Buying or selling a home for the first time can be stressful. However, home buyers and homeowners who are selling can rely on their REALTOR to help guide them through the process and help them find their perfect first home or get the best price possible for their current home.